Tahlequah Daily Press

February 13, 2013

Budget cuts, transfer students concerns at Hulbert

By ROB W. ANDERSON
Staff Writer

HULBERT — Discussion of future budget cuts, parental concerns over various school issues and a two-hour executive session marked the Hulbert School Board’s monthly meeting Monday night.

Hulbert Elementary Principal Taf Morphis and High School Principal Brad Ferguson were rehired for their respective administrative roles. The contracts for Morphis, in his first year with the district, and Ferguson, principal for the past three years, were reported to be $44,687.51 and $70,000 respectively.

Ferguson’s contract includes $35,000 for his duty as junior high principal and $35,000 for his high school principal role. Superintendent Dr. Marilyn Dewoody was rehired in the January monthly meeting, and her contract is reportedly $90,000.

Dewoody told board members and others in attendance to expect budget cuts for the 2013-2014 academic year. She detailed the district’s financial activities and noted the expected cost for the approaching year to be $4,716,977.

“That is how much we believe it is going to cost us, and that involves our salaries, benefits, our fuel - all of that kind of stuff,” she said. “So when you take how much money we think we’re going to get [from the state] and how much it’s going to cost us, we’re spending more money than we make. It’s going to eat up our carryover. That’s why I’ve been talking to our school board and our faculty and staff, because we’ll need to cut between $300,000 and $350,000. So in future board meetings, we’ll be talking about ways to cut the budget.”

Dewoody said she’s asked faculty and staff to come up with ways to save money.

“And we will be doing everything we can to save money, but the bottom line is, I don’t want anybody to be surprised. We will be cutting staff to make ends meet next year,” she said.

The board approved a request for additional state and federal funding, as well as the Hulbert Classroom Teachers Association letter on teacher negotiations for the 2013-2014 school year.

During public comment, parents spoke to the board about reinstating the school’s golf program so students could earn college scholarships. They also voiced concern over the screening process used for transfer students because of “negative behavior” from some of the newcomers.

One parent, who said her student had been “stalked” by a transfer student, subsequently pulled her child from Hulbert and enrolled the student in an online school.

Another parent cited bullying as a problem at Hulbert, and her allegations targeted a teacher as the source. She said the instructor made racial and weight-related remarks to her child.

Because these remarks were made during a public comment portion of the agenda, the board could only listen to the accusations.

“All I can comment on [about] Mrs. Burton’s statements is that all reports of bullying are dealt with quickly and thoroughly,” said Dewoody.

“I asked my principal [Ferguson] about that, and that incident had not been reported to him. So I cannot verify if that is incident is true.”

Another parental concern related to equal and complete instruction during seventh-hour athletics, as well as diplomas being withheld as a result of incomplete participation with fundraisers.

On Tuesday, Dewoody addressed some of these issues.

“We have very high standards of conduct, attendance, etc., when we consider accepting transfer [students],” Dewoody said.

“Students do not have to participate in fundraisers in order to graduate and receive their diplomas. However, if they want to participate in class trips, etc., they do have to help raise money for the activity.”

She said the board did not discuss reinstating golf. Two parents addressed the issue, but since it was not on the agenda, they could not discuss it.